Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bunyan on the Disobedient Child

Andy Naselli recently posted this poem by John Bunyan which I appreciated and thought appropriate for this blog. I hope you appreciate it as well.

Upon the Disobedient Child [pp. 761–62]
Children become, while little, our delights!
When they grow bigger, they begin to fright’s.
Their sinful nature prompts them to rebel,
And to delight in paths that lead to hell.
Their parents’ love and care they overlook,
As if relation had them quite forsook.
They take the counsels of the wanton’s, rather
Than the most grave instructions of a father.
They reckon parents ought to do for them,
Though they the fifth commandment do contemn;
They snap and snarl if parents them control,
Though but in things most hurtful to the soul.
They reckon they are masters, and that we
Who parents are, should to them subject be!
If parents fain would have a hand in choosing,
The children have a heart will in refusing.
They’ll by wrong doings, under parents gather,
And say it is no sin to rob a father.
They’ll jostle parents out of place and power,
They’ll make themselves the head, and them devour.
How many children, by becoming head,
Have brought their parents to a piece of bread!
Thus they who, at the first, were parents joy,
Turn that to bitterness, themselves destroy.
But, wretched child, how canst thou thus requite
Thy aged parents, for that great delight
They took in thee, when thou, as helpless, lay
In their indulgent bosoms day by day?
Thy mother, long before she brought thee forth,
Took care thou shouldst want neither food nor cloth.
Thy father glad was at his very heart,
Had he to thee a portion to impart.
Comfort they promised themselves in thee,
But thou, it seems, to them a grief wilt be.
How oft, how willingly brake they their sleep,
If thou, their bantling, didst but winch or weep.
Their love to thee was such they could have giv’n,
That thou mightst live, almost their part of heav’n.
But now, behold how they rewarded are!
For their indulgent love and tender care;
All is forgot, this love he doth despise.
They brought this bird up to pick out their eyes.
- John Bunyan. “A Book for Boys and Girls: or, Temporal Things Spiritualized.” Pages 746–62 in vol. 3 of The Works of John Bunyan. Edited by George Offor. 3 vols. London: Blackie and Son, 1853.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Two Kind of Men

We are still enjoying Little Britches.  It is a mixed bag with various weaknesses, including fairly frequent profanity (which I edit out).  However, when it is good it is various good, particularly in the interaction between the main character boy and his father.  In what we read this evening the boy has been told only fools work with their hands and others are owed a living.  When he shares this with his father as they are milking the cows, the father, who doesn’t typically say much, says:

“Son … There are only two kinds of men in this world.  Honest men and dishonest me.  There are black men and white men and yellow men and red men, but nothing counts except whether they’re honest men or dishonest men.
“Some men work almost entirely with their brains; some almost entirely with their hands; though most of us have to use both.  But we all fall into one of the two classes- honest and dishonest.
“Any man who says the world owes him a living is dishonest.  The same God that made you and me made this earth. And He planned it so that it would yield every single thing that the people on it need. But he was careful to plan it so that it would only yield up its wealth in exchange for the labor of man. Any man who tries to share in that wealth without contributing the work of his brain or his hands is dishonest.
“Son, this is a long sermon for a boy of your age, but I want so much for you to be an honest man that I had to explain it to you.”

That is a good word.  The son reflects,

“I wish I knew how Father was able to say things so as to make you remember every word of it.  If I could remember everything the way I remember the things Father told me, maybe I could be as smart a man as he was.” (177)

This is a good portrait of father son interaction reminiscent of Proverbs (cf. 3:1).

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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Character in Little Britches

At the encouragement of several friends I have begun reading Ralph Moody's Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers which was first published in 1950.


We are already enjoying many humorous parts. Tonight there was also a good lesson.  The main character, an eight year old boy, lied to his mother in order to cover himself and to get to try something with their horse.  Things went bad and in the end his lie was exposed.  His father's comments are well stated:


"Son, there is no question but what the thing you have done today deserves severe punishment.  You might have killed yourself or the horse, but much worse than that, you have injured your own character.  A man's character is like his house.  If he tears boards off his house and burns them to keep himself warm and comfortable, his house soon becomes a ruin.  If he tells lies to be able to do the things he shouldn't do but wants to, his character will soon become a ruin.  A man with a ruined character is a shame on the face of the earth." (41)